Does God still perform miracles today? If so, what do they look like?
Ask those questions to 100 people and you’ll get 100 different answers. Ask them to 100 Christians and you’ll probably get 200 different answers. There’s a lot of fuzzy thinking where miracles are concerned. Thus, I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review Tim Stafford’s new book, Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern-Day Experiences of God’s Power.
I find the subject of miracles fascinating, largely because I’ve held just about every possible opinion regarding their existence or non-existence.
I became a Christian during the charismatic renewal that swept the Episcopal Church back in the 70s, and so for a portion of my Christian life I saw miracles—or what I thought were miracles—everywhere. As I recall, at one point I even prayed for God to heal a stalled Volvo.
But in Bible college, the winds of theological change swept over me and my views on miracles took a 180 degree turn. I went from seeing miracles everywhere to seeing them nowhere (except in the Bible, of course). In theological terms, I became a cessationist. I believed that the miracles of the Bible and the early church were real, but that after the New Testament was completed, they ceased.
Over the years of my ministry, however, my views softened and moved back toward the center. I realized that God would not be kept in the neat little box that I’d constructed for him. I concluded that God can do anything He wants to and He doesn’t need my permission. I didn’t go back to my old perspective of seeing miracles everywhere, but I have come to the conclusion that God is still very active in this world and among his people, particularly in the third world.
Perhaps in the West we don’t see God working dramatically because we’ve become too sophisticated to believe.
What does all of this have to do with Tim Stafford’s book?
I’ve read a lot of books on miracles and the miraculous over the last 35 years, and it’s rare to find a balanced treatment. Most of the time, you either find an author who sees miracles everywhere or one who sees them nowhere.
Tim Stafford’s Miracles is a balanced and objective treatment.
His presentation of the Biblical teaching on miracles is solid, and he does an excellent job of addressing the question of whether or not God intervenes in his creation—performs miracles—today. I agree with his conclusions.
I won’t give you his conclusions, because I want you to read his book.
However, I believe the last paragraph from the book will give you a hint of where Stafford goes: “It is in God’s very nature to astonish us by his goodness. He does wonders as he wishes, in complete freedom. And we—we ask. We watch. We witness and express our grateful thanks.”